WINNER - Best Actor in a Musical (NODA NW) - Gary Harvey
WINNER - Best Set and Costume Design (BATS)
3rd - 8th November 2008
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Nora Howcroft
Musical Director Ben Smith
Choreographer Lara Crombie
Phineas T. Barnum Gary Harvey
Charity Barnum Allison Smith
Ringmaster Ryan Entwistle
Jenny Lind Lindsay Farnworth
Tom Thumb Stephen Lim
Joice Heth Joyce Walters
Blues Singer Jane Bickerstaffe
Julius Goldschmidt Mike Bailey
James A. Bailey Mike Bailey
Chester Lyman David Witt
Amos Scudder Alan Hitchen
Sherwood Stratton Mike Bailey
Mrs Stratton Sarah Booth
Wilton Matthew Windsor
Edgar Templeton David Witt
Humbert Morrisey Alan Hitchen
Women's Rights Activist Debbie Eustace
Concertmaster Matthew Windsor
Laurenne Bailey, Carole Brooks, Lara Crombie, George Coleman, Jill Marsden, Barbara Martin, Dave McGreavy, Nicola McKay, Zoe Pollitt, Mary Pycroft, Maria Sharrocks, Lucy Tyrer
  • Charity and Barnum Charity and Barnum
  • Barnum perrforms on the high wire Barnum perrforms on the high wire
  • Ringmaster Ringmaster
  • Tom Thumb and Guards Tom Thumb and Guards
  • Phineas T. Barnum Phineas T. Barnum
  • Joice Heth and Barnum Joice Heth and Barnum
  • Ringmaster Ringmaster
  • Barnum and Charity Barnum and Charity
  • Barnum and Company Barnum and Company
  • Jenny Lind Jenny Lind
  • Barnum and Jenny Barnum and Jenny
  • Blues Singer Blues Singer
  • Barnum and Company Barnum and Company
  • Circus performers Circus performers
  • Barnum and Charity Barnum and Charity
  • Barnum Barnum

  • Bolton News Review
  • NODA North West News Review
A traditional musical was mixed with all the fun of the circus for this tale of America’s greatest ever showman. Barnum follows the journey of Phineas Taylor Barnum, from his early days in the business to him joining forces with James A Bailey to form the “Greatest show on Earth”.

It looked like so much effort went into the production — Walmsley Church Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society really pulled out all the stops. The performance was filled with added details that were really appreciated by the packed Parish Hall Theatre. There was a whole host of circus tricks to wow the audience, with every cast member learning a skill or two. Juggling, plate-spinning and tightrope-walking were among the talents on display. The odd magic trick was thrown in too, just to add that little bit more to the show’s offering.

Gary Harvey went down a storm as the lively Barnum, well supported by Allison Smith as his wife, Chairy Barnum. Lindsay Farnworth was lovely as Jenny Lind, the Swedish singer, and Stephen Lim gave a strong performance on his senior debut, playing Tom Thumb. Key songs included There is a Sucker Born Every Minute, The Colours of My Life, I Like Your Style and Black and White.

A 10-piece orchestra accompanied in great style. The scenery was bright and effective, with versatile props used to their full potential, and the costumes couldn’t have been more colourful. It was great to see Walmsley Church AODS going strong as it celebrates its 80th year.

Cherry Thomas
This musical is a challenge for any society and one to which this company rose with some success. If you have two people who can develop an onstage rapport, then the whole production has that extra edge. Here we had two such people in the form of Mr and Mrs P T Barnum.

Allison Smith was ideally cast as the steady hand at the wheel, Chairy Barnum. The supportive but steadying nature of the character was completely captured. Allison gave a lovely performance enveloping all the facets of what, I believe, makes an outstandingly well rounded characterisation.

In complete contrast Gary Harvey displayed the vibrant ever changing chameleon-like nature of P T Barnum. He had the energy and physical agility for the part and managed to capture the sincerity of a Barnum who really seemed to believe in his own bunkum.

Lindsay Farnworth sang beautifully. The sad inevitability of the final scene with Barnum was well defined and she made a glamorous Swedish nightingale, Jenny Lind. The unicycle riding Ringmaster was played with authority by Ryan Entwistle and whilst Stephen Lim made an engaging Tom Thumb, he was a little vocally insecure. No such problems for Jane Bickerstaffe as the impressive Blues Singer and Joyce Walters as Joice Heth.

A small chorus and several cast members playing two or more lesser characters allowed the choreographer, Lara Crombie, to make the most of the available stage area. Whilst the characters’ multiple roles might habe been a little better defined, Mike Bailey was Julius Goldschmidt, James A Bailey and Sherwood Stratton, whilst David Witt played Chester Lyman and Edgar Templeton.

Scenery from Prosceneium and costumes from Costume House were excellent. The orchestra, under musical director, Ben Smith, was occasionally overloud and unsympathetic to the players. Congratulations to the society for successfully tackling such a challenging musical.

Glyn Neary.

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